LEADING jockey Mathew Cahill enhanced his reputation as the most successful jockey in Albury Gold Cup history after claiming his fifth $200,000 feature at Albury yesterday.
Cahill joined forces with local trainer Ron Stubbs to win aboard Spunlago.
Stubbs is also a previous winner of the listed feature with Wilga Dash in the early 1990s.
He became the first Albury trainer to win his hometown feature since Brett Cavanough saluted with Niblick in 2013.
Spunlago had never won over 2000m from three previous attempts.
But in a training masterstroke by Stubbs, Spunlago ran at Caulfield last Saturday over a mile where he finished at the tail of the field.
Stubbs said Spunlago relished the quick back-up and was rock-hard fit for the cup.
"People query his 2000m form but I thought he run a nice race in the Canberra Cup last year when seventh," Stubbs said.
"The biggest query probably was if he was going as good as he was 12 months ago.
"We are lucky to have the horse and that's his 13th win from just over 50 starts.
"He was probably at the crossroads today because it is so hard to find winnable races for him with his rating.
"It's a catch 22 because he is below the top class in the city and the only races he is eligible for in the country is these country cups."
Spunlago was given the run of the race by Cahill after settling handy and stalking the hot-speed being set in front by Fun Fact ($4).
With the field well-strung out turning for home both Maid Of Ore ($4.40) and Spunlago ($41) quickly reeled in a tiring Fun Fact.
The pair cleared out from the rest of the field before Spunlago gained the upperhand at the 100m mark to score by a length.
Maid Of Ore held on for second from a fast-finishing Great Glen ($101).
The Craig Widdison trained Willi Willi ($13) ran an honest fourth after winning the cup two years ago.
Race favourite Attorney was heavily supported and backed into $3.50.
But was never a factor and finished 10-lengths behind the winner with Robbie Dolan aboard.
Cahill said it was a big thrill to land his fifth Albury feature but it was a strange feeling without the traditional huge cup day crowd in attendance.
"It's disappointing there is no crowd here but we can't do anything about that can we?," Cahill said.
"It obviously takes away the atmosphere but it's still a great feeling to win another Albury Cup.
"I've been coming here for 30-years and Albury has always got a great atmosphere and one of the races you love to win.
"Its been a lucky race for me.
"To be honest I didn't give Spunlago much of a chance today on his form.
"But the positives were he was on his home track and had a very good horseman training him.
"Ron told me he was reasonably happy with his past couple of runs but I thought they were a bit below par.
"I shouldn't have doubted him."
Cahill said Spunlago enjoyed an economical trip after slotting into the box seat shortly after the start.
"He had a lovely run but they still have to finish the race off which the horse did to his credit," he said.
"It was a fast run cup and I was positive out of the gates on him and he usually likes to settle further back but he jumped and wanted to race today so I let him roll.
"I lobbed into a nice spot behind the first two or three.
"He travelled strongly all the way and I had a lap full of horse approaching the turn.
"I thought he might be a bit vulnerable over the last 100m but he found the line really well.
"Full credit to Ron."